REVIEW & OUTLOOK, August 11, 2012
When these columns asked last week “Why Not Paul Ryan?”, we had no idea that Mitt Romney would choose the Wisconsin Congressman as his running mate. So much the better if he had already made up his mind. In choosing the 42-year-old, Mr. Romney has embraced the GOP’s reform wing and made it more likely that the election debate will be as substantial as America’s current problems.
Vice Presidential choices rarely sway electoral outcomes, but they do reveal something about the men who make the choices. As Mr. Romney’s first Presidential-level decision, the selection speaks well of his governing potential. He broke free of the stereotype that he is a cautious technocrat by picking Mr. Ryan, a man who has offered reforms that the country needs but are feared by the GOP’s consultant class and much of his own party.
Mr. Romney is signaling that he realizes he needs a mandate if he is elected, which means putting his reform ideas before the American people for a clear endorsement. He is treating the public like grown-ups, in contrast to President Obama’s focus on divisive and personal character attacks.
The Ryan choice also suggests that Mr. Romney understands that to defeat Mr. Obama he’ll have to do more than highlight the President’s economic failures. He must also show Americans that he has a tangible, specific reform agenda that will produce faster growth and rising incomes.